08/14/2012 1:19PM

Arlington Park: Silver Max has partners riding high

Coady Photography
Silver Max was a $20,000 yearling purchase.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Mark Bacon and Dana Wells met one long-ago afternoon in the dingy confines of the old Sports Spectrum simulcast parlor in Louisville, Ky. It was a chance meeting made possible only by their shared passion for playing the races.

“You’d have never guessed then that we’d be in this position now as owners,” said Bacon.

Indeed, with a 3-year-old turf phenom named Silver Max, Bacon and Wells are living the proverbial dream. Both will travel to Chicago this weekend to watch Silver Max try to extend his winning streak to seven when he faces eight other 3-year-olds in his first Grade 1 race, the $500,000 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park.

Bacon and Wells, both 46, have long sought refuge in racing partly as a means of easing the stress of their professional lives. Bacon has worked out of his Louisville hometown for Brown-Forman, the liquor distributing giant, for 23 years, and now travels internationally on an extensive basis as brand manager for Southern Comfort. Wells, who has returned to his native Phoenix after years of living elsewhere, including four years in Louisville in the mid-1990s, is president of CBS Outdoor, which has more than $2 billion in revenue in selling billboard and other media display space.

Their trainer, Dale Romans, who turned 46 on Tuesday, has known both men for years, having run in essentially the same racetrack circles.

“I’ve been friends with Mark since before high school, and I’ve known Dana a long time, too,” said Romans, who not only will have Silver Max in the Secretariat, but also Cozzetti and Finnegans Wake for different owners. “It’s been a ton of fun having a good horse for them.”

True to their handicapping roots, both Bacon and Wells are wondering aloud how deep the competition will be Saturday for Silver Max, a speedy bay who has rarely been headed in going unbeaten since taking a turf allowance at Gulfstream Park in March. Aside from Summer Front, unbeaten in five grass starts for Christophe Clement, major threats in the Secretariat field will include the European pair of Bayrir and Daddy Long Legs. Both have hinted that their best efforts might be enough to push Silver Max to his limit.

“They do kind of scare me, because their form is so hard to gauge,” said Bacon. “It’s one of the things that makes Arlington such a great venue. They’ve got horses coming from overseas to challenge us. It should make for a great race.”

As Silver Max kept reeling off wins, Romans often said the colt had not yet been fully used. That seemed to change in his last start, the 1 1/4-mile Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs, where a longshot with a slipped saddle suddenly zoomed ahead of him on the backstretch run. Silver Max and jockey Robby Albarado did not panic, and the colt eventually forged back ahead at a steady clip, then had enough left down the stretch when put to a steady drive to prevail by a length in his longest race yet. The Secretariat also is run at 1 1/4 miles.

The Virginia Derby increased Silver Max’s earnings to $855,967, a rather tidy sum for a colt who cost just $20,000 as a yearling.

“I’d had a few horses here and there, usually with a partner,” said Bacon. “My dad usually had a horse or two when I was growing up, so I was always hanging around the racetrack. Dana and I have been partners before, but not with anything close to this. To have a top horse like this has been just unbelievable.”

Alluding to dominating scores by Silver Max in the Grade 3 Transylvania at Keeneland and the Grade 2 American Turf on the Kentucky Oaks undercard at Churchill Downs, Bacon said, “That was like a dream come true, for him to run the way he did in front of all my family and friends.”

“It really has been an unbelievable run,” said Wells. “The horse has really put it all together.”

As outstanding as Silver Max has been thus far, the Secretariat will be the start of seeing just how good he is against top-flight company. After this, assuming another big effort, the colt could have one more race, perhaps the Grade 1 Shadwell Mile on opening weekend of the Keeneland fall meet in October, before heading to California for a shot at the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Mile on Nov. 3 on the Santa Anita turf.

“Secretariat was my favorite horse, so winning this race would be really special, and I can’t say enough good things about hospitable the people at Arlington have been,” said Bacon. “We’re all having a whole lot of fun right now. We’re just hoping we can keep it up.”

Rob Sacret More than 1 year ago
Thank you Vinod, At least there are still people in this business that have common sense when it comes to compare 'DOMESTIC VIOLENCE" with cap-lock key. REALLY!?!? Pure Ignorance. When are you people are going to realize that Robby has major problems. STOP making excuses.....
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
Occupational hazard. They teach these jockeys to hit. It's like dating a cop, most of them are broke but like to show off in other ways.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GIG, now you are just doing it on purpose to rile us up. You can´t be so blatantly ignorant (actually, the right word would be: stupid) as to believe that someone teaches them to hit their spouses and, even worse, compare them to "most" cops, whilst saying this is an "occupational hazard."
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
That whole mess is in the hands of the Court... Stick to the horses, ok?
Rob Sacret More than 1 year ago
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
I think sometimes it is equally annoying to put one's hand on the cap-lock key continuously.
Vinod Jhangimal More than 1 year ago
Seriously GIG? All cap locks is as "annoying" as the actions of Robby Albarado? I don´t know what is more disturbing; the fact that his actions are "annoying" to you or the fact that they are on equal terms to ALL CAP-LOCKS!
smitty More than 1 year ago
i heard robby is part owner dont know if thats true
Rob Sacret More than 1 year ago
YES, It is true!
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
Winner of the Grade 1 DeFrancis Dash, it is just Yes It's True without the comma or the "is"
Robert Smith More than 1 year ago
Yea his whole career should be squashed because of dom vio (crime of the century to some) . This rule of thumb should have been followed since the dawn of time. Get a grip peeps
Two400 More than 1 year ago
Daddy Long Legs has finished close to last and last in his two American starts. Only an idiot would bet on such a loser!!!
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
and a bigger idiot is the one who is unaware of the difference between dirt form and turf form.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Aiden O' Brien is going after Frankel! - How dare he?
Robert Smith More than 1 year ago
Heard BC is nexted on his hit list.
Gee More than 1 year ago
Lets see Daddy Long Legs was last in the derby. hummm. Silver Max all the way.
mnwildguy More than 1 year ago
Way to go Dana! Wanna give me 5% of your ownership for all the money you owe me from college? Good luck Saturday.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Duke still Luvs
jttf More than 1 year ago
silver max is having a better year than frankel had when he was 3.
Daniel Garcia More than 1 year ago
nicola c More than 1 year ago
Frankel....where did that come from it has nothing to do with frankel
jttf More than 1 year ago
frankel 5 for 5 on turf when he was 3. only one mile races. max is 7 for 7 on turf this year. he runs at 8f, 8.5f, and 10f. max doesnt need no stinkin rabbit. this will be race number 9 and he travels much more.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
You think you are so smart, but unfortunately you forgot Rapid Redux. RR totally cleans Silver Max's clock.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Apples to oranges Grass... And hopefully Silver Max is just getting started.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
It was a joke
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Max doan need no steenkin' rabbit! That's funny, you gotta give the dude that one...
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
It is fine to display one's preference to a good racehorse, enthusiasm, attention grabbing penchant, or even patriotism, but here are the facts: - At 3, Frankel won 4 G1 races, Silver Max will be running in his first G1 race this Saturday. Class: Frankel by a mile. - For his entire 3yo campaign, Frankel earned approximately $1.7mil USD. Silver Max has earned $0.8mil USD so far in his 3yo season. ATM machine rating: Frankel ATM - no limit, Silver Max ATM - $400 daily limit - In all his 3yo races, Frankel won them by a combined 30L, Silver Max is a combined 25L minus 12L in his one loss. Dominance: Frankel by a mile. - In his 3yo season, Frankel won an English classic race, and the most prestigious mile race in Europe. Silver Max ran in a prep to an American classic race, and he finished 5th beaten 12L in that race. - When Silver Max kicks away in the stretch, people say, "wow this is a good horse." When Frankel kicks away in the stretch, people don't say anything, they gasp and some drop their jaws.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
The Sussex was a boat race...
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
It was a match race. There have been many top level races throughout history in USA, Europe and other places in the world that had drawn a very short field due to the presence of two big stars. Most of the time these races unfolded in dramatic fashion, but the 2011 Sussex Stakes wasn't dramatic, it was simply mind blowing. Imagine the 2012 Preakness, instead of I'll Have Another out-finishing Bodemeister after a dramatic stretch drive, I'll Have Another sprouted wings instead and flew pass the finish line to shake hands with Bob Baffert just as Bodemeister crossed the finish line, and then he quickly made a U-turn and landed himself in the traditional Preakness winner's circle just as Creative Cause crossed the finish line, and as soon as Pretension crossed the finish line, I'll Have Another folded his wings and started breakdancing, and he took the microphone from the NBCman, and announced on live national TV, "I'm going to Japan!"
jttf More than 1 year ago
how many grade 1 turf races are available for 3 year olds so far this year ? zero. there are only 3 turf races for 3 yr olds that are listed as grade 1. the secretariat, jamaica, hawthorne. the purses for these 3 are $400,000, $250,000 and $250,000. so how is silver max going to make any big money. america puts all of their money in the triple crown and their prep races.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
Hello? Frankel beat older horses in 3 of his 4 G1 tilts. By the way, the Hawthorne Derby is not a G1 race, the Hollywood Derby is. Also, the Jamaica is worth $500k this year thanks to casino money.
prlyr4lyf More than 1 year ago
turf couse @ ap is playing speed ,a possible merry go round race in the works!!!